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Overview of Real Estate in Crimea, Ukraine

Introduction

You may already be aware of the tremendous increase in the value of real estate that has occurred in the capital of Ukraine; Kiev in the last 5 years. In that time property prices in parts of Kiev have increased by over 500%! Property prices in the center of Kiev are now on par with those of many western European cities; with a small one room from flat in the center costing at least $150,000. The majority of foreigners who have invested in real estate in Ukraine up to now have invested in properties in Kiev. Odessa has also attracted its fair share of foreign investment in real estate in Ukraine, as it is well known, and a major Ukrainian destination for foreign tourists. Apart from these two cities, foreign investment in real estate in Ukraine has been relatively low.

Crimea is the number one tourist destination in Ukraine, and is blessed by a wonderful climate and spectacular scenery. The peninsula is gradually attracting an increasing amount of investment from abroad in its real estate. As a rule, investors are seeking real estate in the main cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol, and on the south coast of Crimea. The south coast is host to the most expensive real estate in Crimea. Prices of property in the south coast's premier destination; Yalta, are almost the same as in Kiev ($2500 m2 compared to $2800 m2). To purchase a small elite level flat in Yalta built by one of the local construction companies (i.e. Konsol) you need at least $130,000. Such flats tend to be purchased by buyers from Kiev and Moscow, as well as an increasing number of foreigners, most commonly from Germany, America and Poland.

As would be expected, within Yalta the closer the property is to the sea, the more expensive it is. The reason for this is that many properties in these towns are rented out to tourists in the summer months, and much great rental prices can be gained from properties close to the sea.

The next most expensive real estate in Crimea is found in Sevastopol. Sevastopol is also located on the sea, but on the less spectacular western coastline of Crimea. Last year the average increase in the price of flats in Sevastopol was 30%. 27.2% for 1 and 2 room flats. 33.1% for 3 bedroom flats (VO Crimea review, March2007). In the first 2 months of 2007 there was just a slight increase in the value of property, but, as happens every year, this rate of increase is due to rise from the beginning of April as investors come into Sevastopol to buy real estate.

Unlike Sevastopol and the towns of the south coast, the prices of real estate in the capital of Crimea; Simferopol, do not change with the seasons. This is due to the fact that the town is not on the coast and is bustling all year round. In the first 2 months of 2007 alone, the price of an average $50,000 flat increased by $2-3000. Local real estate experts have no reason to think that the rapid increase in the value of real estate in the capital of Crimea is going to stop soon. In fact, they forecast that this year property prices in Simferopol will rise by an average of 25% (VO Crimea review, March 2007)


Why are prices of real estate in Crimea, Ukraine increasing so fast?

This is due to an array of factors. They are listed below in order of importance;

  1. Mortgages are becoming increasingly accessible, which is making the possibility of buying a property more of a reality for an increasing number of residents of Crimea. This boom has occurred in spite of very high interest rates. Mortgage rates are still high but falling every year. As ever more people buy with mortgages the demand will continue to increase.

  2. Many new businesses are being set up around Crimea, and the buying power of local residents is increasing rapidly.

  3. There are very few new flats been built in Crimea, and those that are tend to be in the upper price bracket.

  4. Many of the flats in existence are too small for the needs of modern day families, and they are upgrading to larger flats.

  5. Migration from the cities to the towns.

  6. Many locals in Crimea and Ukraine do not trust banks and prefer to invest their money in real estate.

Where is the best place to buy in Ukraine?

An analysis of the pattern of increase in value of real estate in various towns in Ukraine shows that the country can be roughly divided into 4 groups;

  1. Kiev

  2. Large regional centres which are close in terms of development and standard of living to Kiev; such as Odessa, Donetsk and Dnepropetprovsk.

  3. Smaller regional centres, which are still far from that level; such as Lvov, Simferopol, and Mariopol.

  4. Small towns and rural areas.

Whilst there is room to believe that the real estate market in many parts of Kiev is in danger of overheating, the increase in value of real estate in the towns of the 2nd group is more steady, but property prices are still high.

The pattern of the increase in value of real estate in these towns give a strong basis for supposing that other regional centers in Ukraine that are lagging behind in terms of price increase will most likely catch up with the others. If this hypothesis is accepted, then in the towns of the third group, such as Lvov, Simferopol, and Mariopol.; where real estate is still very affordable, there is particular room for a continued and sustained increase (Crimea Independent, February 2007).

The price of real estate in small towns and rural areas of Ukraine is ridiculously low; and likely to stay that way for a long time (The exception to this rule being small towns and villages that are close to recreational areas of Ukraine, such as the mountains or the sea). The principle reasons for this is that migration is occurring away from rural areas to regional centers. Rural areas in Ukraine are in many ways synomonus to decayed inner city areas in the west. People don’t want to live there and hence there is very there little demand for real estate in these parts of Ukraine.


Where is the best place to buy in Crimea?

As the owner of AccessCrimea, I live and work here and with my experience with real estate in Crimea, I offer you the following advice as to the best place to buy in Crimea. Simferopol is currently probably the most attractive place in Crimea to purchase property.

1) It is the capital of the semi-autonomous republic of Crimea, and contains a parliament and large amount of government workers. Being the capital city of Crimea, a lot of the money that is spent in the peninsula gets fed into Simferopol. The town is developing extremely fast. Just 3 years ago the center of town was small and there were few shops of any note. Now the center is expanding outwards fast, new upmarket shops are appearing every week and bars and restaurants are popping up everywhere.

2) There are major projects in the pipeline for the city; some of which are being realized now; such as a large entertainment complex in the center of town and a large conference complex to host international events, and some which are planned for the near future, such as a complete renovation and beautification of the central park/river area, a new transport infrastructure with a new railway station and road building scheme. Although Simferopol is not considered in any way a tourist destination such as Yalta and Sevastopol, it is planned that this will change over the next few years. Simferopol is a town moving forward fast, and now is as a great time to purchase property here.

3) Simferopol is practically the only year-round town in Crimea. All the others, such as Sevastopol, Yalta and Feodosia are very quite in the winter months, and the tourist season is primarily restricted to the Ukrainian and Russian holidays during the months of July and August. Whilst rent prices are very high during these months, in the long months particularly from November to April they are relatively very low. In Simferopol there is no seasonal fluctuations, and the town is buzzing every season of the year. Rental prices remain stable and the price of property fluctuates less.

4) In Ukraine wealth is geographically very concentrated. Kiev is enormously wealthy and very modern, whilst the villages just 50 miles from it and poor and have changed very little. In the same way, Simferopol is much more wealthy than the village and small towns of Crimea. People are swarming in to Simferopol from the villages in the hope of earning a better wage. At the same time there a very few building projects currently within Simferopol, and the majority of the existing ones are at the top-end of the market. Demand exceeds supply, and property prices are increasing incessantly.

5) Five years ago, one could buy a decent flat in the center of Simferopol for $10000. We've all missed out on that. 2 years one could buy the same flat for $25000. We've missed out on that too. Now this flat will cost close to $45,000. There's no reason to miss out any more; I don't intend to. I have just purchased a flat myself for $45,000, and expect its price to increase by at least 15% this year and the same next year.

6) Simferopol belongs to Ukraine real estate group 3 (see, 'Where is the best place to buy in Ukraine?'), in which there is particular room for a continued and sustained increase in the value of real estate (Crimea Independent, February 2007).

Of course, where Simferopol does lose out is in the fact that the town is not on the coast. If you wish to purchase real estate in Crimea near to the sea, then I would recommend Sevastopol or Feodosia. Yalta and Alushta is becoming increasingly overpriced, whilst the price of real estate in Sevastopol is still reasonable and the town developing well. Feodosia offers low prices for real estate and a high potential for good growth in the next few years; although this is difficult to predict as it attracts many tourists in summer, but is quite small and relatively poor.


Is it safe to buy real estate in Crimea and Ukraine as a whole?

A word about intellectual rights. Some foreigners are naturally concerned about the risk factor of investing money into Ukraine and Crimea. At AccessCrimea, some of the flats around Crimea that we rent out on a nightly basis to tourists are owned by foreigners; from England, Turkey, America etc. Foreigners DO buy here; Intellectual rights are respected, and (up to a certain property size) it is just as easy for a foreigner to buy property as it is for a local.

Of course that does not mean that purchasing real estate in Ukraine is entirely risk free. There are cases of con artists in Ukraine who have used irregularities in the system to sell properties that have problems with the documentation, and then annulled the sale whilst keeping the money. A good property agency however, will fully check all the documentation to avoid such a circumstance, so significantly reducing the risks to the buyer. On top of this, during the buying process, the buyer can take out an insurance policy which insures against such eventualities. Such policies cost from 0.3-0.7% of the cost of the property, depending on how complicated the documentation associated with the property is.


Examples of property prices in Crimea (Crimea Properties, March 2007)

Minimum price of a flat in Crimea in February 2007 (In US dollars).



1 room

2 room

3 room

Yalta

56,000

67,000

82,000

Sevastopol

50,000

67,000

80,000

Alushta

42,000

55,000

70,000

Simferopol

36,000

45,000

55,000

Sudak

34,000

38,000

42,000

Evpatoria

25,000

30,000

33,500

Feodosia

20,000

29,000

33,000

Kerch

15,000

20,000

27,000



Examples of flats currently on sale in the capital of Crimea; Simferopol (Crimea Properties, March 2007)


No. of rooms

Location

Floor/number of floors

Size (m2)

Condition

Price (US Dollars)

1 room

7 mins bus to center

1/5

27

Average

40,000

1 room

15 mins bus to center

2/9

28

Good

42,000

1 room

Center

4/5

38

Excellent

51,000

2 rooms

10 mins bus to center

2/2

52

Excellent

49,000

2 rooms

Center

3/3

50

Average

52,500

3 rooms

12 mins bus to center

2/5

59

Good

57,000

3 rooms

Center

1/5

55

Excellent

76,000

Nuts and bolts - How to obtain property in Crimea, Ukraine